Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
A Guide to the Grosset and Dunlap Editions

This is an overview of the different styles of the original Nancy Drew hardcover books from #1 through #56 that have been issued over the years by Grosset and Dunlap.  It is aimed at the beginning collector and does not include some of the more obscure variations.
Identifying the year of printing
If the Nancy Drew book has a dust jacket, the list of titles on the jacket will reveal the year that the book was printed.  The copyright year for the last title on the list is the year the book was printed.  For instance, on the dust jacket front flap seen at the left, the last Nancy Drew book is The Bungalow Mystery, which indicates that the book was printed in 1930, the year of publication for The Bungalow Mystery.  On the dust jacket front flap seen at the right, the last Nancy Drew book is The Haunted Showboat, which indicates that the book was printed in 1957, the year of publication for The Haunted Showboat.

When a dust jacket is not present, find the last title listed inside the book on either a pre-text or a post-text list.  If a list of titles is present on the copyright page, it will not help because that list was not updated regularly.

Click here for a list of Nancy Drew titles and their publication dates.
1930-1932

Book style for #1-7 printed between 1930 and 1932
Nancy Drew #1-7 printed from 1930 to 1932 are blue cloth books with no silhouette in the center of the front cover.  The books have blank endpapers, and four glossy internal illustrations.  One glossy illustration occurs before the title page, and the remaining three are scattered throughout the text of the book.  The dust jackets have white spines with no spine symbol.  The books are approximately 1 1/4 inches thick and have good quality paper.
Dust jacket style for #1-7 printed from 1930 to 1932
1932-1937
Nancy Drew #1-13 printed from 1932 to 1937 have blue covers with an orange silhouette in the center of the front cover.  The books have orange silhouette endpapers and four glossy internal illustrations.  One glossy illustration occurs before the title page, and the remaining three are scattered throughout the text of the book.  The dust jackets have white spines with no spine symbol.  The books are approximately 1 1/4 inches thick and have good quality paper.

At left, book and endpapers style for #1-13 printed from 1932 to 1937.


Dust jacket style for #1-13 printed from 1932 to 1937
1938-1941
Nancy Drew #1-18 printed from 1938 to 1941 have blue covers with an orange silhouette in the center of the front cover.  All of the books have orange silhouette endpapers.  #1-17 have a glossy frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations.  #18 The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion has a plain paper frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations.  The dust jackets have white spines with no spine symbol.  The books are approximately 1 1/4 inches thick and have good quality paper.

At left, book and endpapers style for #1-18 printed from 1938 to 1941.


Dust jacket style for #1-18 printed from 1938 to 1941
1941-1945
Nancy Drew #1-22 printed from 1941 to 1945 have blue covers with an orange silhouette in the center of the front cover.  All of the books have orange silhouette endpapers and a frontispiece illustration.  #1-17 have a glossy frontispiece from 1941 to 1943 and a plain paper frontispiece from 1943 to 1945.  All copies of #18-22 have a plain paper frontispiece.  None of these books have any additional illustrations.  The dust jackets have white spines with a blue spine symbol in the center of the spine.  The books are about 1 1/4 inches thick in 1941 and reduce to about 1 inch thick by 1945.  Beginning in 1942, the books were printed with very poor quality paper that has deeply yellowed or turned brown.

At left, book and endpapers style for #1-22 printed from 1941 to 1945.


Dust jacket style for #1-22 printed between 1941 and 1945.
1946


Nancy Drew #1-23 printed during early 1946 have a dark blue cover with an orange silhouette and orange silhouette endpapers.  The books all have plain paper frontispiece illustrations with no additional illustrations and are about 1 inch thick.

Nancy Drew #1-23 printed in late 1946 have a blue cover with a blue silhouette in the center and have orange silhouette endpapers.  These books also have plain paper frontispiece illustrations with no additional illustrations.

The 1946 books have poor quality paper.

#23 has the wraparound dust jacket with a blue spine symbol in all 1946 printings.

#1-22 still have the white spine dust jacket with a blue spine symbol in all 1946 printings.

At left, book and endpapers style for #1-23 printed in 1946.


Dust jacket design for #23, above

Dust jacket design for #1-22, below

1947-1951

Above, book style for 1947 to 1951

Below, endpapers style for 1947 to 1951

Nancy Drew #1-28 printed from 1947 to 1951 have the blue silhouette to the right of center on the front cover.  The books have blue silhouette endpapers and plain paper frontispiece illustrations with no additional illustrations.  Some scattered volumes from 1947 and 1948 have the maroon Dana Girls endpapers, which were likely used because the Dana Girls series had gone out of print.  The books are slightly under 1 inch thick.  Books printed as late as 1948 may have poor quality paper, and by 1949, the books all once again have good quality paper.

#23 has the wraparound style jacket with a blue spine symbol while #24-26 have the wraparound style jacket with the yellow spine symbol.

#27-28 have wraparound dust jackets with the cameo style spine symbol.  At the time that #27 is issued, the dust jackets for #1-9 and #11 are issued in the wraparound style for the first time.

#10 and #12-22 continue to be issued in the white spine style.


Dust jacket design for #24-26

Dust jacket design for wraparound #1-9, #11, and #27-38

1952-1958

Above, book style for 1952 to 1958

Below, endpapers style for 1952 to 1958

Nancy Drew books #1-35 printed from 1952 to 1958 have blue tweed covers and digger endpapers.  #1-31 each have a plain paper frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations.  #32-35 have six plain paper illustrations.

#1-9, #11, and #27-35 have the wraparound dust jackets with the cameo spine symbol.

#23 has the wraparound style jacket with a blue spine symbol while #24-26 have the wraparound style jacket with the yellow spine symbol.

#10 and #12-22 continue to be issued in the white spine style.


Dust jacket style for #1-10, #11, and #27-35

Dust jacket style for #10 and #12-22

1959-1960


Above, dust jacket style for the Cameo edition

At the right, book style and endpapers style for the Cameo edition
Nancy Drew #1, 2, and 27-36 were issued in the Cameo book club edition in 1959 and 1960.  The books have dust jackets.

#30-35 were issued in the first set in 1959.  #1, 2, 27-29, and 36 were issued in the second set in 1960.  The books from the second set are slightly harder to find than the books from the first set.

Each book features endpapers with a cameo on a ribbon.  #27 was printed with two versions of the endpapers.  Some copies of #27 have a purple ribbon, and others have a turquoise ribbon.  The rest of the books have no variance in the ribbon color of the endpapers.


1959-1961

Above, book style for 1959 to 1961

Below, endpapers style for 1959 to 1961

Nancy Drew #1-38 printed from 1959 to 1961 have blue tweed covers and blue multiple picture endpapers.  #1-31 in the original 25 chapter text each have a plain paper frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations.  #1-3 in the revised 20 chapter text and #32-38 each have six plain paper illustrations.

In 1961, #4 is issued with a second wraparound dust jacket.  Additionally, #12 is finally issued with the wraparound dust jacket, so #1-9, #11-12, and #27-38 have the wraparound dust jackets with the cameo spine symbol.

#23 has the wraparound style jacket with a blue spine symbol while #24-26 have the wraparound style jacket with the yellow spine symbol.  #10 and #13-22 continue to be issued in the white spine style.

#10 and #13-22 were never issued with wraparound dust jackets.


Dust jacket style for #1-10, #11-12, and #27-28

Dust jacket style for #10 and #13-22

1962-1968

Nancy Drew #1-45 printed from 1962 to 1968 are yellow spine books with the picture printed directly on the boards.  These books do not have dust jackets.  The back cover features Nancy Drew looking out from behind a tree in the upper right corner.  The endpapers are either the blue multiple pictures or the earlier type of black and white multiple pictures.

The books containing the original 25 chapter text each have a plain paper frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations.  The books containing the 20 chapter text each have six plain paper illustrations.

At the left, the blue multiple picture endpapers, and at the right, the earlier type of black and white multiple picture endpapers.

1962

Nancy Drew #1-32 were printed in a book club edition in 1962.  These books are yellow spine books like the 1962 to 1968 yellow spine books.  For these books, the volume number is missing from the spine, and the back cover is completely blank.  Each book is identified as a book club edition on the title page.  The endpapers are either the blue multiple pictures or the earlier type of black and white multiple pictures.

The books containing the original 25 chapter text each have a plain paper frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations.  The books containing the 20 chapter text each have six plain paper illustrations.

At the left, the blue multiple picture endpapers, and at the right, the earlier type of black and white multiple picture endpapers.

1969-1981

Nancy Drew #1-56 printed from 1969 to 1981 are yellow spine books with the picture printed directly on the boards.  These books do not have dust jackets.  The back cover features Nancy Drew looking through a magnifying glass in the upper right corner.  Some books have the Nancy Drew Cookbook ad on the back cover, and these books were printed during the 1970s.

The endpapers are usually the later type of black and white multiple pictures, but some scattered volumes still have the blue multiple picture endpapers.

The books containing the original 25 chapter text each have a plain paper frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations.  The books containing the 20 chapter text each have six plain paper illustrations.

At the left, the blue multiple picture endpapers, and at the right, the later type of black and white multiple picture endpapers.

1976
Nancy Drew #1, 2, and 3 were issued in a book club edition in 1976.  These books have dust jackets.

The books are solid yellow with the title on the spine.  Each book is identified as a book club edition on the front flap of the dust jacket.  The books have unprinted endpapers.
1977


Nancy Drew #1-54 were issued in double editions that are known as the Twin Thriller editions.  Each book contains two stories.  Most books in the set were issued in consecutive order, except for #17 and #24 which were issued in the same book.

The Twin Thriller books were issued in a tall version and a short version.  #1-54 were all issued in the short version, seen at the right.  The short books are much more common and measure 7 1/4 inches tall.  The short books have paper that has yellowed.  #1-16 were also issued as tall books, seen at the left.  The tall books measure 7 3/4 inches tall and have paper that has not yellowed.  The tall books are harder to find and are more sturdy than the short books.


1982-1986

Nancy Drew #1-56 printed from 1982 to 1986 are yellow spine books with the picture printed directly on the boards.  These books do not have dust jackets.  The back cover features Nancy Drew looking through a magnifying glass in the upper right corner.  The endpapers are the double oval endpapers.  These books are the first Nancy Drew hardcovers which do not have ink staining the top page edges.

All of the books have six plain paper illustrations.

At the left, the double oval endpapers.

1986-present day
Nancy Drew #1-64 printed from 1986 to the present are glossy yellow spine hardcovers.  Because the books have a flashlight symbol on the front cover, back cover, and spine, they are often referred to as the 'flashlight editions.'  The endpapers are blank.  These books do not have dust jackets.  All of the books have six plain paper illustrations.
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